Sarah Spitzer did her PhD research in Space Science and Engineering with the Solar and Heliospheric Research Group at the University of Michigan’s College of Engineering. She used ion mass spectrometers in situ to remotely sense the interaction between the heliosphere (solar system) and the Very Local Interstellar Medium (the matter between stars in our corner of the Milky Way galaxy). She expanded upon this work in postdoctoral research at the University of Michigan in collaboration with the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas, further utilizing techniques in direct space science measurement, specifically the Heavy Ion Sensor instrument onboard the NASA/ESA Solar Orbiter spacecraft, as well as spaceflight data validation, for remote sensing of interstellar properties.
Dr. Spitzer’s current team at the Weizmann Institute of Science is creating a large cost-effective telescope from smaller individual telescopes, giving her hands-on hardware experience with ground-based telescopes. These telescopes can remotely sense both near-Earth satellites as well as distant astrophysical objects. Dr. Spitzer uses this new technology to research the Oort Cloud, a collection of icy objects which is hypothesized to be orbiting the Sun at distances of thousands of astronomical units, but which has never been directly measured. The new telescopes could make such direct measurement possible, furthering our understanding of how our solar system was formed.
Dr. Spitzer has expressed her deep commitment and connection to Israel and the US, and to education and leadership, by volunteering during vacation as a counselor on three separate Taglit/Birthright trips to Israel.